12 Stages Of Pregnancy

Stage 1: Giddy euphoria  You've been planning this. You've been working on this. I mean... Really putting in the work. You're excited and anxious. You stock up on pregnancy tests. It's only been 2weeks since your last period, but you can't help yourself. So you pee on a stick. It's negative. No worries-there's still time. So you pee on another stick. And another stick. And another. Then one day, the minus turns into a faint plus. It's happening! It's really happening! 

Stage 2: Terror

It's happening? Holy crap, it's happening. Did we think this through? Are we ready? I need to tell him. How do I tell him? Just blurt it out? What if he's excited? What if he's scared? I wasn't ready for this. I mean. I'm ready, just not ready... 

Stage 3: Acceptance and more euphoria

I'm having a baby! I want to shout it from the rooftops! Go tell it on the mountain! Hello world- I'M PREGNAAAAANT! 

Stage 4: (Optional)

*Insert morning sickness here*

Stage 5: Awkward baby bump

Yes, I've been eating a lot lately. No, I'm not fat, I'm pregnant. *rolls eyes*

Stage 6: Gender reveal

It's a *insert gender here*! Shoppiiiiiiing! 

Stage 7: Baby shower-things are getting real

Friends and family literally shower you with presents for your tiny tot. You silently shed a tear because baby things are so effing cute. Also, you're emotional. About everything. And that's OK. 

Stage 8: Are we there yet? 

You're annoyed at everyone and everything. No one can do right by you. Your poor husband-what did he do to deserve this? Oh yeah, that's right. He put a baby in your belly and made you miserable. He did this to you. He'll pay for his sins...

Stage 9: Awe of the miracle of life

This baby is getting pretty big. Wait a minute. This baby keeps growing. And it's going to have to come out one day. Does it really? From there? Can't we just hang out together? I kinda like taking you with me everywhere I go...

Stage 10: Are we there yet now

You're in your final weeks/days. Baby's head has dropped. If your're lucky, there's one foot in your spine and another foot constantly kicking your bladder. But you can't run to the bathroom because of the excruciating nerve pain. Thank God for kiegels giving you the strength (literally) to not pee on yourself. 

Stage 11: Nerves

When will you go into labor? What if you're in a meeting? What if you're in traffic? What if you're at the grocery store and your water breaks? Do you still checkout? Can you drive? Should you drive? The nursery isn't ready. You don't have a birth plan. You haven't packed a hospital bag. You haven't preregistered. Shit. 

Stage 12: D-day

Luckily, you never came up with a plan, because if you did, things would not be going according to it right now. You're scared and anxious but exhausted and so over it. You wait for the moment when you finally meet the person who has been growing inside of you for 9 months. It's a humbling experience.  Now time to buckle up!!!! The fun's only just begun...

Darkest Before Dawn | The Reset Button Pt 2

My head space was so crowded with anxiety. I wanted to shut down and withdraw, but there was simply too much at stake. We put an offer in on the house but I was conflicted. Part of me wanted it all to be done quickly. Part of me was scared of how fast it was all happening and wanted it to fall through.  Still, I put on a brave face. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it."

V's semester finally ended, so he and Ella made their Exodus and headed south to join me. Mimi was due back any day now. I was excited but nervous. We weren't set to close on the house until after Christmas. And that wasn't even a sure thing until we could sign on the dotted line. 

I went to the airport to meet Mimi. I fantasized about a hugely dramatic reunion. She would run into my arms, squeeze me tight, and refuse to let go. I sat anxiously at the arrivals lounge. Then I saw them-- my sister and my beautiful baby girl. It had been too long. Finally she was here. 

I waited for her to turn around and see me. She turned. She saw me. I waved frantically, barely able to contain my excitement. She yawned, then turned and looked the other way. 

Huh?  This is not how this is supposed to happen. Maybe she just didn't see me. 

I ran towards her and planted a big kiss on her cheek. She screamed and clung tighter to my sister. 

My heart sank. 

I had underestimated how hard it would be to be away from her, but what I hadn't considered, was how hard it would be to be reunited. 

I still wonder whether she had forgotten about me, or if she was just harboring resentment for leaving her with my family (I'm leaning towards the latter school of thought, knowing my Scorpio baby). Whatever the reason, it was tough. 

Luckily my sister was there for a while to help with the transition, though, Mimi instantly clung to V. 

Figures. 

Still, I soldiered on. We closed on the house with little fanfare. 

It was bittersweet. Everything was all coming together but I was gone all week,every week, and I barely had time to enjoy it. 

I felt a familiar weight starting to develop. The weight of guilt. 

Desperate for some sense of normalcy, I threw my effort into the precious moments I shared with Mimi on weekends. #Girlstime was instituted. I was determined to rebuild our relationship. I even took her on a weekend vacation back to Trinidad to solidify our bond. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it." Except it wasn't fine. This wasn't fine. I had to make a change for the sake of my family; for the sake of my sanity. 

LUCKILY the change came without having to leave my company, and I was able to lateral into a new position which afforded me the ability to lead a somewhat "normal" life. 

My family was whole again. My family was home again. 

It only took us a year. 

The Plunge | The Reset Button Pt 1

**This is the first part of a two part series: The Reset Button. This series talks about my experiences during the first year after taking the plunge and starting all over again, from scratch** It has been one year since we moved. When I say "we" I mean "I" because it was not as straightforward as one would think. 

I needed to report to my new job ASAP. It was the middle of V's semester, so he had to stay behind to finish up. We each had hectic schedules: I had to travel during the week, he had to juggle a full time job and full time grad school. We had talked at length about what we would do with Mimi during "the transition". Neither of us would be able to engage with her as we should. We decided that it would be a good time for her to have an "extended vacation" with my family in Trinidad so she could spend some time with her international relatives while experiencing the culture and customs that made Kiki--Kiki. 

It was easy at first. I knew Mimi was having the time of her life and that she was well cared for. 

I knew V was doing his thing and taking care of business. I had a very active project in New Orleans. The complimentary upgrades to presidential suites made me feel more than comfortable, but the food, hands down the food, made the experience so enjoyable. 

Unfortunately, the honeymoon was short-lived. Weeks of us being scattered across the globe started to take its emotional toll on me. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it." 

Mimi's birthday was fast approaching. Mimi's first birthday was fast approaching. My first baby's first birthday. I wasn't even in the same country. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it." 

Her birthday came and went. I felt so guilty. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it."

V was able to drive down and we spent Thanksgiving together. Together, without Mimi. She missed her first Thanksgiving. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it."

V's semester was almost over, and the three of us would soon be reunited. We'd all be together and all will be well. Wait. Where would we live??? 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it."

With me gone all week and resting on weekends, I hadn't started our housing search in earnest. Mimi and V are going to move here, and we would all couch surf? Was this move all for nothing? 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it."

Except, I had to think about it. 

I got a real estate agent and started knocking out home tours. I was glued to my Realtor and Zillow apps. I found a house I liked as soon as it came on the market. I had a local project and I was actually in town, so I scheduled a viewing the next day. 

The traffic was... Abysmal. Still, I thought I'd give it a chance. 2 hours later, I took my exit from the interstate. The landscape instantly changed. It was like I was in another world. A quaint little town with shopping and restaurants. Beautiful, lush, and green. This is where people came to raise children. I got to the house. It'd need some work, but it was priced well, and I didn't mind putting in sweat equity. 

I left the house. More traffic. Shit. 2.5hrs to get to my destination this time. I sent V some pictures and we talked while I was in the car. We weighed the pros and cons. Surely the traffic couldn't be that bad every day. We'd leave it on the list for consideration. I finally got back to my aunt's house. My Zillow app pinged. 

Sold. 

That's right, taken off the market after two days. We didn't even have a chance to say no. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it."

I continued along with the search. The market was hot. Nothing lasted very long before being snapped up. I started to lose hope. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it."

My Realtor called me one afternoon. She found a house she wanted me to tour. It had been on the market for about a month. What was wrong with it? I checked the online listing. Terrible quality pictures, some were even upside-down. Did this person even want to sell their house? She assured me that although the online profile left much to be desired, I should visit the house in person. The reason the house was still on the market was that they were getting basically zero foot traffic.  So I went. 

It was perfect. 

This was the one. This is where we needed to be. I sent V photos and videos. We needed to put an offer in on it--immediately. My family grew concerned. They thought I was rushing-- which I was. But I assured them, I had my reasons. Excellent schools, updated house, reasonable commute, right on the money. I assured them that this was right decision. Still, the seeds of doubt had been planted in my mind.

Cheeseburger Crotch

Google it--you know you want to...  **Disclaimer: this post is a bit crass. Also, I'm not a medical professional, just sharing an experience I wish someone would have shared with me**

Ahhhh, the magic of pregnancy. I was around 4 months pregnant with Mimi. I gave myself my usual monthly Brazilian (no typos, did I mention I am a Rennaisance woman and I do everything myself? Plus I'm incredibly cheap) but something was different this time. It was the morning after and the soreness should have gone down by this time... But it didn't. Plus there was a dull, throbbing sensation. I cursed myself for being so damn cheap. "Kiki, this is why people go to professionals to get things like this done. You really effed up this time". I was nervous; I feared the worst. I would have to be examined by a doctor while explaining the dynamics of how I got myself into this mess in the first place. 

Maybe it'll pass. 

I gave it a few days, but nothing. It actually got worse.  I was abnormally swollen on one half of my lady bits. I called it "frankenpuss". It looked like I had suffered a stroke and one side was healthy and lively while the other side was 2-3times its usual size and looking to be in need of assistance. This couldn't be from a Brazilian gone bad. I turned to the one place I knew I could turn to for ready, on-demand medical advice: the internet.

A few pregnancy threads later I came away with a name for my affliction: Cheeseburger crotch. Alas! I wasn't alone, and many women before me had to deal with it. Increased blood flow to my nether regions resulted in frankenpuss, or, cheeseburger crotch. It lasted the rest of my pregnancy, but thankfully faded away during my healing process after delivery. 

I'm now around 4 months pregnant for the second time. 

Frankenpuss, we meet again. 

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My Best Friend's Wedding

She asked if I wanted to be her matron of honor. I said I do.  I had an entire year to prepare, but in true Kiki fashion, I procrastinated right to the last minute. 

My dress would take 6weeks to progress from order placement to delivery. I ordered it 8 weeks before the wedding. It was delivered to my doorstep 2 weeks before the wedding. I tried it on. It was too long. 

Shit. 

I carefully thought about my plan of attack. The material was a stretchy polyester blend, and there was no hem. This meant that any adjustment would have to be made with a sharp pair of scissors and a steady hand. Right up my DIY alley. So, naturally, I did what any responsible matron of honor would do: I rolled it into a ball and shoved it in the back of my closet. 

The night before the wedding, I pulled the dress out and tried it on again. I had little patience to measure and mark the entire perimeter of the dress, so I eyeballed it. 3 inches too long, maybe, so I cut 3 inches off all around. I put the dress back on. It was still too long, and the front was longer than the back (oh yeah I asked for a longer front because of my pregnant belly). 

Shit. 

I stuffed the dress and my scissors in my suitcase. I would make it work one way or another.

The morning of the wedding, I put on the dress and I asked the maid of honor to grab one of the hotel pens and mark the dress where it touched the ground. She was nervous. I felt bad. She was a trooper, though, and she did it. Then 10 minutes later, I was done cutting, and I put the dress back on. It was perfect. I hoped she'd like it. 

She asked if I wanted to make her veil. I said I do

(OK, OK, I offered, she accepted) 

I had an entire year to prepare, but in true Kiki fashion, I procrastinated right to the last minute. 

To be fair, I only half procrastinated on this one. I bought the material months in advance-- then shoved them into the back of my closet. 

Five days before the wedding I realized that I should probably get a move on this veil because there was no plan B (maybe she had a plan B, but I knew nothing about it). Failure was not an option. I started the task of painstakingly stitching the lace embroidery to the tulle veil. I was about 25% done when I lost interest in the task and moved on. 

Three days before the wedding, I glanced across to my dining room table. The veil sat there, staring at me, taunting me-- a trophy of my failure. "I will finish you, veil. I will finish you--tonight!" I committed myself to finishing the ring of lace around the veil. Finally! I got to the end of the string of lace. Yes! But there was a six inch gap of tulle between the start of the lace and the end of the lace. 

Shit. 

I'll just buy some more lace--simple! I went to my local Hobby Lobby and perused the lace aisle. I knew I probably wouldn't find the same lace (I had bought it months before, on a business trip in Missouri) but I didn't need the lace to match. I needed it to go. I would make the 6 inches a focal point of the veil and place an elaborate strip of lace with pearls. It'd look totally natural, like I meant to do it, duh. 

Then I got home. The veil was white and the supplemental lace I had just acquired was ivory. 

Shit. 

Two days before the wedding, I had an incomplete veil and no materials with which to finish it. I drove to the Jo-Ann Fabric store the next town over, because they had to have what I needed. They had to have what I needed. Then I saw it. The EXACT MATCH for the lace I needed to finish. 

Perfect! 

I rushed home and finished my project, newly energized to tackle the headband as well. I stood back and admired my work. I hoped she'd like it. 

She asked if I wanted to give a speech. I said I do. 

I had an entire year to prepare, but in true Kiki fashion, I procrastinated right to the last minute. 

Caught up in the saga of the long/short dress and the last minute veil, I was unable to gather my thoughts long enough to conceptualize a speech. I had ideas floating around but I had nothing down on paper. 

The morning of the wedding, while waiting with the bridal party to get my makeup done, I tackled the speech. It was almost there, but not quite. 

The afternoon of the reception lunch, between bites, I was able to finish my speech. I hoped she'd like it. 

I wasn't sure I'd make it, but in the end, everything was.... Perfect. I'm so happy for the wonderful couple. There was so much love and genuine emotion at that wedding and I only hope that their relationship matures and blossoms and they have a long, fruitful, and happy life together.

RJ, my bestie, my day 1, I love you. 

<3

Oh, Yeah- I'm Pregnant

*Gasp* SPOILER ALERT- I'm pregnant!!!!   It seems like it's been forever since my last post! I felt like I needed to post a quick update. We've just been busy busy busy and I've been putting off blogging, but no more! I'm back! So what's new? A lot!!! After being in what felt like limbo for the greater part of a year, things are finally falling into place. 

V

V started school last week!!! He has embarked upon the long journey towards getting his PhD. So proud of my man! Oh, and he built a new bar and totally redid the laundry room and basement (details to come in a future post). And started brewing beer. Again, no, I don't know where he gets the time or energy. 

Mimi

Mimi started school last week!!! (Such a daddy's girl). I'm so happy she'll be making new friends and learning new things. She's so excited to go to day care in the morning and a regular chatty Cathy in the afternoon, Just bubbling with excitement to share what happened with her day. 

Kiki

I got a new job!!!! Travel mama no more. I'm on my office grind (with occasional, optional travel) and I couldn't be happier. I used to loathe working in an office environment, but 100% travel quickly changed my perspective on things. I love going in to the office every morning because it means coming home to my family every afternoon. 

Oh, and I'm pregnant!!!!

*Happy Dance*

Baby Crabapple is expected to join the party in February!!! Yes folks, it's happening all over again. This time, I'm glad I have you along for the ride. 

The Recovery | Labor And Delivery Pt 3

**This is the third part of a two part series: Labor And Delivery (Because the fun doesn't end after a baby falls out of your hoo-ha). A lot of people have been asking me about my experiences so I thought I'd share. DISCLAIMER--if you have no interest in reading about labor or my labor, you should stop here. Things will get pretty graphic** We did our skin-to-skin bonding and all that jazz. They whisked her away to the pediatrician for standard testing and routine newborn care. 

I was in my new mama glee. I barely realized my doctor working away feverishly under the sheet. 

"What's going on down there? Is it the placenta?"

"No, you already passed that, it's right over there, " she motioned towards a Stainless Steel table. "I'm actually stitching you up. Your little girl came out like Superman, with her arm straight out in front of her. Well, she grabbed hold on her way out, and, well, I'm just stitching you up. Totally normal. Nothing to freak out about."

So I stared at my doctor, who at this point, started to resemble a skilled seamstress. I almost felt like Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas who was always sewing herself back up again. It wasn't terrible, though. I still couldn't feel a thing. 

"Nurse, I need a Popsicle please."

I was determined to milk this hospital stay for all it was worth. 

Soon enough, I was all stitched up and ready to make my transition to the recovery ward. The nurse came back to prep me. 

"Your epidural is going to wear off soon. Before it does, I'm going to have to remove your catheter, and you are going to have to go to the bathroom to pee at some point. You are going to think you can walk, but I guarantee you will fall. Do not attempt to get off this bed unless I am here."

It started feeling less like a relaxing stay at the private hospital birthing suite and more like baby bearing boot camp. Wait. The epidural ends? I need to talk to your supervisor. 

The nurse came back in a while later and untaped the bag of pee from my leg then removed my catheter. Slowly I began to regain sensation. The only thing I remember feeling at this point was sore. I wiggled my toes and raised my legs. I was ready to use the bathroom, or so I thought. 

I waited for my nurse to come back even though I was sure I didn't need her. She instructed me to slowly get off the bed and gradually put weight on my legs. I followed her instructions. I was standing on my own. Clearly she had no idea what she was talking about. 

I took my first step, wobbled, and fell. She caught me before I could fall to the floor. She was right, I accepted defeat. I hobbled over to the bathroom with her supporting most of my weight. I sat on the toilet and waited.

Nothing happened.

"Do you need to pee? "

"Yes, actually, I really need to pee but nothing is happening."

"You need to pee before you leave this room because they're going to give you a catheter in recovery and you are going to feel it. You don't want to feel it. You need to pee."

The added pressure was not helping the situation. I pictured waterfalls and rivers. Nothing. I pushed. Nothing. 

"I just can't pee. I really need to but I can't. I don't know what else to tell you."

She helped me back to my bed and brought me a 32oz jug of water. I chugged it. She brought me another 32oz jug. I chugged that. She brought me a third 32oz jug. I made it through half of it.

"I really need to pee. Really bad."

She helped me hobble over to the bathroom. Still nothing. 

The recovery nurses arrived with a wheelchair to transport me to their unit. I could hear my nurse whispering to them,  "she hasn't peed. She's going to need to pee." I felt like a toddler being forced to pee before bedtime for fear of wetting the sheets. 

As soon as I got to the recovery room, the nurses took me to the bathroom. 

"We're going to let you try one last time, but if you still can't, you're going to need a catheter. "

I could feel my bladder about to explode, but I still couldn't pee. There was no use trying. I told the nurses to go ahead with the catheter because I really need to pee and it clearly wasn't happening on its own. 

They helped me up onto the bed and both nurses stood between my spread legs. One nurse got the catheter ready. 

"Hold my hand, this is going to hurt."

"It can't hurt any worse than what I'm feeling right now, plus I really really need to pee so let's just get it over with."

"One, two, three! "

I felt pressure, then nothing. The nurse looked at me. 

"We missed. Everything is just so swollen, we missed your urethra. It's actually swollen shut. We put the catheter in your vagina by mistake. But what I'm going to do is I'll just leave it in there, so I know where not to put the next one."

That was the most absurd thing I had ever heard. Two experienced nurses couldn't put in one catheter. I knew my vulva probably looked like it had gone through a blender, but that was no excuse.

I waited for them to prep another catheter.

"One, two, three!"

Instant relief. The urine flowed into a huge container and slowly filled it up. 

Once my bladder was empty, one nurse brought me my hospital issue underwear, and the other nurse brought me an "ice pack", which looked like crushed ice wrapped in a paper towel. Padsicles are real? I instantly regretted not having any Padsicles prepped and ready in my freezer. The ice pack felt like heaven against my inflamed lady-bits. 

I struggled to get comfortable. The nurses brought Mimi in for a feeding. It wasn't one of those magical baby crawl moments I envisioned where the baby would find its own way to the nipple. Instead, one nurse held Mimi, one nurse held my breast, one nurse used a suction cup on my nipple to get the colostrum going, and one nurse stood in the corner coaching me. It was awkward. I started having post-labor contractions while breastfeeding and it added to my level of discomfort. 

V took Mimi after her feeding while I focused on my cocktail of medication. I took my laxative (apparently the first post-baby poop is... Difficult) and my pain medication. My pain immediately melted away and I fell asleep until the next morning. 

The next day I opted out of the magic pain-killing pill because I needed to be awake and present to bond with my precious baby. The rest of my stay was painful yet uneventful, and V and I just couldn't wait to head home with our little bundle. 

My recovery took a full 6 weeks. I gained a whole new level of respect for my mother.

....And then the hospital bill came. 

Thank God for health insurance.